A new low: ISIL tries to sell James Foley’s body for $1 million
American photojournalist James Foley was beheaded by ISIL militants in October. (AFP/File)
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The family of beheaded American photojournalist James Foley are facing fresh agony after sick Islamic State militants tried to sell them his headless body for $1million, according to a new report by Buzzfeed.
The website spoke to three middlemen trying to broker the deal, who say they can prove the body is Foley's with a DNA swab and will deliver the remains across the Turkish border once the ransom has been paid.
Foley was the first American hostage to be beheaded by an ISIS militant in a graphic video recording this summer. Since August, the terrorist group overtaking large swathes of Syria and Iraq, has beheaded two more Americans and a Briton in similar displays of barbarism.
The three middlemen interviewed by Buzzfeed include a Syrian rebel fighter, a businessman and an official for the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the U.S.-backed rebel group helping to fight ISIS in the civil war-torn country.
The rebel fighter, who also claimed to have connections to Jubhat al-Nusra (Al Qaeda's Syrian affiliate), called his work 'a humanity case' since he believes returning the body to Foley's parents will help bring them closure.
'They ask for $1 million, and they will send DNA to Turkey, but they want the money first,' he said. 'They will not give the DNA without the money.'
But the FSA official warned Buzzfeed against publishing the article, believing the US government would shut the deal down if they found out.
Foley was one of 23 Western hostages held by ISIS earlier this year. Fifteen of the hostages were freed when their respective European governments paid millions of dollars in ransoms, but the British and American hostages were left behind since neither country negotiates with terrorists.
It was previously reported that before Foley's death, his family was approached by the group with a $132million ransom to secure their son's release, but that US officials made it clear that if they paid the ransom themselves it would be an act of treason.
'It will be like a shame for the US government,' the FSA official said, of selling the body. 'People will ask why you brought the body but you didn’t bring him when he was alive.'
The Foley family have not yet commented on the story, and the US State Department told Buzzfeed 'we are seeking more information'.
Holding Western captives for ransom is one of the main ways terrorists groups like ISIS raise money. A New York Times report published this year found that Al Qaeda has made at least $125million from ransoms since 2008, with $66million raised in 2013 alone.
By Ashley Collman